HONOLULU (KHON2) — If you’ve been dining out, you may have noticed it’s getting a bit pricey. Restaurants said they have no choice but to raise menu prices due to the increasing cost of expenses.

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“All restaurants right now are dealing with a lot of headwinds coming out of the pandemic,” stated Mike Palmer, owner of Kuhio Avenue Food Hall. “I mean, whether minimum wage just went up, the cost of food have gone up across the board… and Hawaii has some of the most expensive utility costs.”

Business owners are trying their best to keep menu prices low despite experiencing a 10% to 15% increase in food costs, especially with proteins up from 25% to 30%, according to Hawaii Food Association.

“We try to avoid passing it on the customer, but it’s inevitable that we have to, you know, raise prices to adjust for those things,” said Palmer.

Menu items are also increasing from initiatives supported by the public.

“We have to use eco-friendly packaging now with all the legislation that’s been passed for that, and that is triple to quadruple what the plastic packaging used to cost,” added Palmer.

According to HFA Executive Director, Sheryl Matsuoka, food prices won’t drop for a while if labor, utility among other expenses don’t go down.

“Unless those factors reduce, then you’re not going to see a decrease in cost of food [restaurants] are counting on a big Thanksgiving and a big holiday right now as the tourism numbers have dropped,” said Matsuoka.

Some restaurants on other islands like Maui have been struggling with a loss in profit after a freeze in prices, per Hawaii Food Association.

“While the governor’s proclamations in effect they can’t increase even slightly their menu prices to offset the high costs of products coming in,” stated Matsuoka. “A business has to look at their bottom line and say, you know, is it worth it to keep our doors open?”

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Restaurants are calling on all foodies in the community to support local businesses during the holidays. The best present for your loved ones might just be a gift card to your favorite spot in town.